KartPulse A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Sponsor

Article Information

  • Published By : Kelley KAM Kartway
  • Published On : Nov 13, 2017
  • Views : 1041
  • Likes : 1
  • Category : Sponsorship and Marketing
  • Description : A detailed guide for beginner on how to go about securing sponsors for their race team.
  • Location : Rhome, TX, United States

Overview

  • Getting sponsored is a three fold endeavor:  Planning, Sales and Servicing. 

    • Planning – this includes your Driver Development program plan and Marketing plan.  It will encompass your Social Media, driver website, marketing material (ie: Hero Cards & Press Releases), merchandising.  Be sure to understand your new role as a Business Manager of your team – be prepared to run it like a business.
    • Sales – the proposal and getting it in front of the interested potential sponsors is part of the selling process.  You and your driver are now salesmen and your race team is the product.
    • Servicing – how you plan to create a return for your investment to make it a win-win-win for all parties.  Make sure you create a plan that will bring your sponsor the results that they desire.

    When you get more advanced in your racing career you will have PR firms and advertising agencies to handle this but for now it’s all you.

    Sponsors don’t want to connect with your racing, they want to connect with your target market.  They are  not interested in having a logo on the side of the wing and calling it good.  Your goal is to create a win-win-win partnership: You, Sponsor and target market (customers/fans) – everyone benefits.  There has to be a strategy in it for everyone for it to work.

    Before you get started create a sponsorship friendly organization within your race team.  Everyone on the team represents and plays a role.  Think of yourself as being seen as walking, talking commercial.  Be prepared for rejection but have a never give up attitude.  Joe Gibbs says “Often the money will go to the person or team who just won’t give up.”  Don’t compromise integrity and educate the team/driver on brands, corporate policy, being well spoken and knowledgeable in all thinks karting and racing related.

    “Sponsorship is at the core of racing for all of us and it is often more competitive than the racing itself” another quote I got from Joe Gibbs.  By the way don’t include Joe Gibbs Racing on your short list of potential sponsors as they don’t sponsor drivers or events.

    The first thing you need to do is create a Marketing Plan.  In that you will want to define your Brand.  You want to set yourself apart from other driver and race teams.  What makes you special or gives you that edge above the rest?  What do you want your audience (fans) to come away with when they engage with you?  Sure you want to win races but what’s inspirational or meaningful goals you want to accomplish as a race team?  What are your Hot Buttons?  Are you going to be racing for a cause? [insert racing for a cause] What is the emotional story behind your race team?  Quality Family time?  Life lessons? Family oriented sport appeal? Good entertainment? Safe for kids, thrilling and exciting?  Your real motivations are emotional – people make decisions about time and money for emotional reasons.  Why are fans gong to want to attend your race and follow you with loyalty?  Also, are there any negative situations that concern the brand – identify those.

    Next define your target market.  Who is the fan base or the person who is going to enjoy watching you race and root you on?  Although we are karting building a fan base is essential to start now.  This is where Social Media comes into play along with race reports and post content the fan doesn’t have to be at the track to support you.

    Research your market. You need to know a lot about them if you want to appeal to them.  Ask them questions – do a poll on Facebook about what they like or don’t like.  Research.   Get a bearing on your demographics by age, sex, marital status, if they have children, where they live, income and employment.  It is possible to have several target markets.  Know your end-user (ie: the fans).  Get them by generating likes on Facebook fan pages or followers on Instagram and YouTube.  [Read blog post about How to Create A Facebook page]

    Now you want to decide what are your market strategies.  Know who your competitors are and what sets you apart and gives you a unique selling advantage. 

    • Objectives
    • Strategies for researching objective

    Your objectives indicate what you want to achieve.  Use the SMART objective:

                    Specific

                    Measurable

                    Achievable

                    Results Oriented

                    Time Bound.

     

    For example, if one of your objectives is to get media coverage for your race team, be more specific and set a goal to have a local sports blogger feature your driver in a post.  Another objective is to have a certain number of followers or likes on your Fan Page/Social Media.  You would utilize a content strategy to create entertaining, engaging and informative posts about your driver, the race team, your Cause or the sport itself, all in an effort to draw more fans to your site.

     

    Marketing Objective – ask where do I want to go? Then how am I going to get there?  And finally, evaluation – how are you going to measure your progress or success.  When will you know that an objective has been met?

     

    Objectives examples include email marketing campaign, online promotion, media promotion, publicity, kart graphics with advertisers, etc.   And don’t forget the #1 objective of all and that is your Driver Development program – your detailed ladder step system of learning and training. 

    Driver Development Program Ladder system diagram

     

    Implementing your marketing strategy: After you’ve done all your research and listed your objectives it’s time to start working your plan.  Going through the classes (ladder system) is part of that process so you are already in the game.  Maybe you even have a Facebook Fan Page or Instagram account [Read How to Create an Instagram Page].  If not there is no time to waste.  Follow the guideline and advice I have for you in my blog posts.  You want to create continuity with your Brand and online reputation.

     

    The goals that you set in you marketing strategy should be mapped out on a calendar or notebook for quick and easy reference.  TIP: You should be marketing your driver to radio shows, internet TV shows, magazines, newspapers and sports bloggers to secure interviews.

     

    Another tip is to video the races and upload them to your own YouTube Channel.  It’s fine to post them on Facebook but keeping them on YouTube makes them searchable and all in one place.  You have a designated spot and it becomes a library of promotional resources.  You can easily lead a potential sponsor to your Channel to view videos of you racing vs just telling him about it.  This also helps build your fan base for those people who can’t come out to the track to watch you in person they can watch your videos.  YouTube is a valuable Social Media resource and I feel it is underutilized.   It creates a live platform and a history of your race career.   The potential to create a buzz of excitement when selling yourself to other media outlets vs them just having an email request or phone call is also a plus.

     

    Target your media correctly. Go after racing blogs and radio shows.  If a show is geared for Sprint Cars – ask anyway!  You are a future Sprint Car driver aftercall, on the ground floor and your killing it!  Sell yourself and them on how entertaining a young racer would be foe the show (or article).  Everyone loves kids, and kids that race has built in appeal, and the audience (readers/listeners) will enjoy it. 

     

    Remember you are in competition with other racers looking for media coverage.  Work with your driver and set up mock interviews with questions.  They need to be able to handle themselves with the host and carry on an intelligent and knowledgeable conversation about their racing and the sport. There is nothing worse than being asked a motor question by the host and the driver is clueless.  {Is that part of his Driver Development?}  You have a talent that media outlets will scoop up as they try to differentiate themselves among the rest and their programming goals are to be entertaining with interesting guests.  It’s not that hard to get booked for a show.

     

    Just make sure the driver has practices so they don’t get “stage fright” and freeze!!  The first time will be nerve-racking for the parents and the driver will be nervous too, but if he knows his stuff he will do fine.  They have to start some time and the sooner the better.  **Have a special or funny story ready to talk about – be creative.  Kaley’s go to story was that I put race gas in her baby bottle when she was a toddler out at NTK.  I was busy helping customers and she handed me a Gatorade bottle along with her baby bottle and I just filled it up not knowing that Mike had syphoned gas into it.  The hosts loved that story and it made her memorable.

     

    Pro TIp: When you do get sponsors make sure you mention them in all your interviews and print media!!

     

    Another tip is to use Facebook and Instagram for online promotions.  Have a contest or a poll to engage your followers.  Ask them to refer their family and friends to your Fan page.  And if you don’t have one now is a good time to start thinking about it – your own driver website.  This will look good in the sponsors eye and gives an added advertising outlet to list them and their products.  You should also have a current and updated Race Resume on there.  You can link all your Social Media and videos along with race pictures on a gallery page.  It’s the perfect Marketing tool for your driver.  This is also a great way to start building up an email list by having a sign-up form right on your site.  Email marketing is a good way to keep in touch with your fans and using Mailchimp is free and easy to build your list and host your newsletters.

     

    More Tips:

    • Stay positive
    • Stay out of politics
    • Never bash a track or fellow competitor
    • Be engaging – can even go off topic and talk about other relevant things other than racing
    • Give frequent Thank you shout-outs to fans and sponsors.
    • Use technology to extend the race events with your audience by posting videos of the races
    • Give play by play race reports and don’t forget to show gratitude to fellow racers for a good race – be sure to congratulate the winners even if they beat you.
    • Submit your website to search engines
    • Make sure your content is mobile friendly
    • Write press releases [insert sample] to engage media outlets – tell them about race results, your cause or upcoming races.
    • Acquire – Engage – Retain – that goes for fans, sponsors and race knowledge.

     

    Side note: one of the best race moms I’ve seen do all this for her child’s PR was Kyle Larson’s mother. I’m sure there is still a lot of her work out there on the internet (I know on YouTube), but now that he’s NASCAR royalty the Big Dog PR people have taken over marketing.  But she set him up for success with all her efforts.

     

    Sales:  At this point you understand what you have to offer and you have defined your Brand.  You wrote and implemented a strong marketing plan so now it’s almost time to start knocking on doors.  Use what you you’ve learned and researched to draw up a formal Sponsorship Packet.  Include your mission statement, marketing plan, Sponsorship strategy, define your audience (who are you sending your marketing message to?) and include a driver bio with a race resume.   Make sure you include your goals and objectives.

     

    Then list your services – what will you give the Sponsor in exchange for his investment.  Thinks to include could be Driver appearances at the business 2 times a year in full race gear with the race kart on display, distribute flyers and coupons at races for products or services, sponsored blog post on your website highlighting a product or service, sign space on the pit trailer, logo placement on the wing, Hero Cards with sponsor listed, Team tshirt with sponsor prominently displayed , “X” number of mentions on Social Media per week, Free tickets to the races for employees or customers.  If you have an email list of significance a sponsored email newsletter sent out to the target market is appealing.  Sponsor listed on all media profile and press releases and a dedicated sponsor page on the website. You could give rights for sponsor to on-sale benefits to his vendors or big clients.  (Sponsee approval required.)

     

    After your proposal is written create a Hit List by doing research and matching your brand/services with the company’s brand/service or product.  Don’t forget to match by audience and target market.  Be sure you are looking at specific brands, products or serves and not just the company.  Expand the list by listing objectives matching with sponsors so you can personalize the sales pitch.

     

    PRO TIP: Write an email template out with your sales pitch so you can email packets out to potential sponsors.  And try to get the name of someone in charge that hopefully shares your objective interest and is a fan of racing.

     

    If you get a lead that looks promising or even a rejection from someone, don’t forget to ask them for referrals.  Do your research and think outside the box.  If you have a good target audience match – that’s a potential sponsor – make the call.  IF you are racing for a cause [Racing for a Cause Info] use your sources to get referrals.  Make a sponsor information checklist with name of contact, address, email, website, social media links and list at least 5 key branding matches you have with them. 

     

    Make initial contact and try to set up a meeting to discuss your offer in detail.  The driver must attend and be prepared to act like a little professional representative of his race team.  Drill the driver on the brand positioning you have in common with the potential sponsor so he feels comfortable and knowledgeable going into the meeting.  If you have marketing material like Hero Cards make sure to bring a few and have the driver offer to autograph one for him.

     

    Be sure you are ready to paint the picture.  The proposal should have all the legal, logistic, and relevant information and details but make it come alive for them by being enthusiastic and confident.  Be prepared to discuss your marketing plan in detail as executives and business owners are keen on this subject – you are after all asking to be a part of their marketing plan.

     

    Be open for the potential sponsor to offer ideas and suggest additional benefits for his investment.  Or negotiate a 25% discount right off the bat.  They want to get all they can and while nothing should be off the table stand your ground with confidence.  The investment may in fact warrant some additional benefits or services so be ready to think on your feet and negotiate extras.  The return on the investment doesn’t have to be monetary  – it could be community good will for the company.  But the rule is that it must offer and represent value.

     

    If you ‘ve been down this road already and have a track record with a sponsor be sure to highlight the positives of that relationship and how you maintained a win-win-win strategy. 

     

    Something I get asked a lot is if they should offer different sponsorship levels.  I do at KAM but I have more areas of services and benefits to offer with that of being a track.  You can offer a Gold, Silver and Bronze package at different amounts with different benefits to match.  Just be careful that the 2nd and 3rd package are priced appropriately and the top guy doesn’t feel like they are getting a bad deal because the others are getting almost as much as him.   Just be flexible and not stuck on what you have written down. You may be lucky to get a bite at all your first go around so don’t turn anything down without thinking it through. 

     

    PROTIP:  I like doing my sponsor packages in Power Point then saving them as a PDF.  Slides are easy to present your platform in an organized and concise way and easy to share via email or on a website page.  If you are good a video editing then by all means add a promo video to your package. Visuals increase the sales appeal.

     

    The best time to approach a company for sponsorship is before they finalize their marketing budgets and plans for the next year.  I find November is a good month to start the process.  Always remember to focus on the Sponsor’s needs.  And send a thank you letter immediately after the meeting.  Again, be flexible – if they want to sponsor you and pay it out over the season let them.  Just make sure all the payments and due dates are outlined in the contract.  Know your bottom line and don’t let yourself get bullied.  “You are holding a negotiation, not a fire sale.”  Negotiate from a position of confidence.

     

    Sponsorship Planning and Management:

    Once you have secured a sponsor and the check has cleared, don’t bail out on the sponsor.  You promised him services and benefits and you need to uphold your end of the deal.  It’s a major responsibility to keep the sponsor happy and satisfied.  You want to build a strong and lasting relationship with them.  Include them on all Press releases and race reports.  Make sure that all the sponsor’s objectives are being met if not exceeded.  Drop in on them at the business just to give them an update or take them out to lunch to go over strategy.  If you do a mid-season promotion be sure to include them at no extra charge.  And remember that you are a brand ambassador for the sponsor and your actions reflect on them.  Show quality character traits and good sportsmanship at all times.  All this will give you leverage for the next season when it comes time to renew.

    NOW IT'S YOUR TURN.....
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